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Pretzel_Warrior's Journal
Pretzel_Warrior's Journal
February 10, 2014

Here's a question. WARNING: Violent video images included.

Seems Putin and his corrupt government cracking down on any and all forms of freedom get a little love among progessive circles these days.

I'm curious where folks here stand.

Oh, and let me add this video from Human Rights Watch documenting violence against GLBT community in Russia as vigilantes have been given blessing by the government to persecute gay people.

WARNING: Contains disturbing images of violence.

January 20, 2014

Ok. the message on DU is clear. Be glad with what you might get, serf!

Yesterday, there was a link to a discussion about college degrees. Although the article was saying we're doing a disservice to the less fortunate by telling them higher education is a ticket out of poverty, the thread also seemed to veer into "education is not the key to prosperity".

Now today we have a thread saying "we shouldn't try to follow our dreams and do what we love--we should take that shitty sales job or become a garbage collector."

These are symptoms that our economic and education systems have been fucked up for far too long.

I will be telling my son to explore many paths in life and find out what he is good at and loves doing. He should try to make a career of that and get proper education to do so. I will be telling him how important higher education is in our increasingly complex world. To me, education in college programs is a great antidote to the lack of critical thinking skills in high school and the faith-based bullshit of religion.

I have no problem that others really like working on cars and they really want to go to a trade school to learn how to work on cars. It can be a nice living. But unless there are unions to protect jobs, that person is a specialist at the mercy of capital. As soon as the ownder jerks the job away to a new area, that person may find themselves unemployed with a very difficult way back into the work force.

No matter what people say, you SHOULD look for things that interest you and make you feel good about life while paying the bills. For some, that means being a biochemist looking for new cures. For others, that may mean building homes or working in landscape design.

Do not allow yourself to be a mindless cog in the machine of capitalism.

January 6, 2014

Farewell. It doesn't look like I'll get the book list compiled prior to the break. Instead....

I offer you a great list of lists. In my original post here, I include a link to Norwegian Book Club's list of 100 top works of literature. After reviewing ones from The New York times, Le Monde, BBC, and others, I felt this one was a little more fair to authors regardless of country or ethnicity.

The Norwegian Book Club chose not to rank each book in its relative place in the top 100 other than to say Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes received 50% more votes than other books and is at #1. The rest appear in alphabetical order.


1.Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Alonso Quixano, a retired country gentleman in his fifties, lives in an unnamed section of La Mancha with his niece and a housekeeper. He has become obsessed with books of chivalry...

1984 by George Orwell

The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literature

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

Absalom, Absalom! is a Southern Gothic novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. It is a story about three families of the American South, taking place before, during,...

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Revered by all of the town's children and dreaded by all of its mothers, Huckleberry Finn is indisputably the most appealing child-hero in American literature.

The Aeneid by Virgil

The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem written by Virgil in the late 1st century BC (29–19 BC) that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor....

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage...

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved (1987) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The novel, her fifth, is loosely based on the life and legal case of the slave Margaret Garner...

Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin

The story concerns a small-time criminal, Franz Biberkopf, fresh from prison, who is drawn into the underworld. When his criminal mentor murders the prostitute whom Biberkopf has been relying on...

Blindness by Jose Saramago

Blindness is a novel by Portuguese author José Saramago. Blindness is the story of an unexplained mass epidemic of blindness afflicting nearly everyone in an unnamed city

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

The Book Of Disquietude or The Book of Disquiet (Livro do Desassossego in Portuguese), published posthumously, is one of the greatest works by Fernando Pessoa.

Selected works also included on the list are:

Children of Gebelawi by Naguib Mahfouz
Collected Fiction by Jorge Luis Borges
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ramayana by Valmiki
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

December 28, 2013

Care to watch some old conservative crackpot read his newspaper on YouTube?

Hilariously boring. This guy writes under the byline of pjcomix as well as his real name, P.J. Gladnick at Newsbusters. He loves to eat and loves to buy in bulk.

Here's just a sample of this guy's work. He tells us..."keep an eye on November 9, 2013". I googled it. Nothing. So this guy's not Nostradomus. But he does like traditional print media and just wants to share.

December 16, 2013

I need everyone's help again with a book list. This one is Top 5 books you've read.

Last December/January I ended up compiling a pretty good list of "top books" to recommend to a teenager. After that, it spurred me to do a fair amount of research on the subject and ended up with a good list to offer to my teenage daughter. She's really been reading a lot this past year which is great.

So now....

What are the top 5 books you've personally read that moved you and stuck with you the most and you would easily recommend to other adults to read? I will compile everyone's results again this year. This one is much more wide open. Doesn't have to be geared toward a specific audience. Doesn't have to be fiction or nonfiction.

I will list mine in there at some point as well, but I don't want to steer the discussion in any particular direction.

November 3, 2013

"#!$%#@*^$% moderates!" Column in USA Today (Sept 2013)

This woman has some good thoughts on why it might be the saner course to get back toward moderation and compromise to actually move this country forward.

In my business — psychology — unyielding, strident insistence on extreme positions brings failure in marriage, career and business. Stubbornness about "principles" with no effort to understand and work with other views causes isolation and feuds, in every area of life.

And yet when it comes to politics, the staunch and unbending are yelling. The right sneers that fellow GOP-ers are "RINOs" (Republicans in Name Only); the left bashes "moderate Democrats" in favor of a "good, progressive, populist message," to quote Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

November 3, 2013

"When did moderate become a political dirty word?" CNN

Admittedly, this is from 2012 election when Romney was still fighting for the right to get ass handed to him by Obama, but this commentator brings up some good history on moderation and why some in modern times seem to think it is aptly used as a weapon such as here on DU and on other message boards of the opposite political persuasion.

It was Barry Goldwater in 1964 who said:

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

And then he promptly got HIS ass handed to him by LBJ. The vast majority of Americans are centrist. That's just a fact.

November 3, 2013

Abstract thinking can make you a more politically moderate. University study.

I find this experiment quite interesting regarding recent topics about moderates vs. liberals or more strongly held or ideologically pure views.

Partisans beware! Some of your most cherished political attitudes may be malleable! Researchers report that simply answering three “why” questions on an innocuous topic leads people to be more moderate in their views on an otherwise polarizing political issue.

The research, described in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, explored attitudes toward what some people refer to as the ground zero mosque, an Islamic community center and mosque built two blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City. When the Islamic center first was proposed it sparked a heated debate pitting proponents of religious freedom against those who felt the center should be moved away from the site of the 9/11 attacks out of reverence for those killed by Muslim extremists.

September 26, 2013

Obamacare NOT what is contributing to drop in employer sponsored health insurance coverage

The Economic Policy Institute reveals the drop in employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) for over a decade--something that has nothing to do with Obamacare. This is a critical point to cite when discussing this issue with conservaderps.

Most Americans, particularly those under age 65, rely on health insurance offered through the workplace. Thus, given these unemployment trends, it comes as no surprise that the share of Americans under age 65 covered by employer-sponsored health insurance (or ESI) eroded for the tenth year in a row in 2010, falling from 59.4 percent in 2009 to 58.6 percent. However, the situation started deteriorating long before the Great Recession: The share of Americans under age 65 covered by ESI eroded every year from 2000 to 2010, decreasing by a total of 10.6 percentage points. As many as 28 million more people under age 65 would have had ESI in 2010 if the coverage rate had remained at the 2000 level.

No demographic or socioeconomic group has been spared from the erosion of job-based insurance from 2000–10. Both genders and people of all ages, races, and education levels have suffered declines in employer-based coverage. Workers across the wage distribution, in small and large firms alike, and even those working full time and in white-collar jobs have also lost coverage.


For overall reference, here is a link to a Kaiser Family Foundation table about who is covered by what types of insurance in the U.S. population. The breakdown is as follows by percentage

Employer 149.4 48.5%
Medicaid 50.6 16.4%
Uninsured 48.6 15.8%
Medicare 40 13.0%
Individual 15.4 5.0%
Other Public 3.8 1.2%
TOTAL 307.8 100.0%

Quickly, this means for over 81% of the population (with employer sponsored, Medicare, Medicaid, or other public insurance) there will be virtually no changes.

For those who are already in private insurance market and uninsured, it will be a mixed bag. Some will qualify for expanded Medicaid. Others will be able to obtain insurance for the first time in a long time and not be denied coverage or priced out of the market. Others who purposefully choose not to be insured will be compelled to, and some younger healthier people in private insurance market will have to pay more (in many cases because the cheap policies they have cover virtually nothing).

September 26, 2013

This is a great opinion piece in Baltimore Sun about Republican's insane demands

It looks like this whole debt ceiling thing is shaping up to be a huge "BLAME REPUBLICANS" drama if the GOP really goes through with their continued cycle of taking the nation all the way to the brink of shutdown and default. There will be no negotiating or capitulation on this. The only negotiation should be: "I'll give you a couple of small cuts only if you agree to raise the top tax bracket to 50%. End of discussion, clowns."

Forget the small potatoes of the continuing resolution, now they want to take the debt ceiling hostage, and their potential demands read like the right-wing's bucket list — not only to delay implantation of the Affordable Care Act for one year but to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, set a timetable for tax reform, block greenhouse gas regulations, reduce civil service pensions, eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and on and on. That it doesn't require the president of the United States to kneel in submission to General Zod of Krypton suggests only a lack of imagination (and perhaps that their membership isn't part of the Comic-Con crowd).

House leaders say stuffing the measure with all these "goodies" is the only way they can muster the votes to raise the federal debt limit by $1.1 trillion. Really? The GOP is so captured by wild-eyed fanatics that they'll plunge the nation into default, substantially raising the debt for many years to come, until everyone gives in to their demands?

Why don't they close the Capitol building and take the tourists hostage while they're at it? And that's not flagrant hyperbole compared to Sen. Todd Cruz likening those who allowed the health care reform law to pass and Germans who allowed Adolph Hitler to rise to power. It's getting increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the harm Republicans seem intent on inflicting the nation and any personal injury they might want to cause the innocent bystander.

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